Kosher Cooking Without Tears

Keeping dietary laws, or attempting to do so, is a great way to feel closer to God and to your traditions. Following the laws of kashruth is also a mitzva or good deed.

Of course a lot of people believe that keeping kosher is an onerous undertaking. They fear that it is too difficult to do outside of cities with a large Jewish population. They fear that being kosher condemns one to a boring and tasteless diet. They believe that kosher food is unavailable in their area, and that they MUST keep two sets of dishes, knives, forks, pots, and pans.

Guess what! NONE of the above is true! You can keep kosher just about anywhere. The diet is interesting and varied, due to the presence of fresh and varied ingredients, and you only need one set of kitchenware.

What you won't find on this page

  • Meat -- Kosher meat may be available somewhere, but it is expensive and the selection poor. It also requires a second set of dishes.
  • Warnings over cheese. I eat cheese. I try not to look at the ingredients. If you are avoiding cheese for religious or health reasons, use kosher cheese or skip the recipes that include cheese as an ingredient.
  • Ditto for warnings about green leafy vegetables and including milk in baked goods. You should know enough to wash your greens to get off the insecticide, and they're your baked goods so you know what's in them. Besides, see meat above.
  • Traditional dishes such as kugels and blintzes. My pancackes, including blintzes are vile. My kinaidlach are like chemical weapons. Most of the food on this page is not stereotypically Jewish. Sorry.
  • Instructions on koshering your kitchen -- I am not a Rabbi, so any instructions I give are going to be second hand. If and when you get ready to kosher your kitchen, consult a competent religious authority. The recipes that appear on these pages, however, will help you stick with kashruth from one day to the next.

If you are used to a standard "meat and potatoes" diet, you may find some of the ingredients in these dishes unusual and new. Don't be afraid to try them or that you won't find them. Everything used in these recipes, except TVP (textured vegetable protein) and whole wheat spinach pasta, I have bought in the Publix on Macon Rd. in Columbus, Georgia. Not every ingredient is available all the time, but they have a pretty good produce department that I try to support by buying unusual items. It is almost as much fun to play "stump the cashier" (Anise is a perrenial cashier stumper.) as it is to make these recipes.

The TVP and the spinach whole wheat pasta come from a natural food store called Country Life. Most larger cities have a natural food store that caters to vegetarians. You don't want a healthfood store that sells mostly vitamin pills. Most dry ingredients and herbs keep, so if you live in the boonies, it is a good idea to make a periodic buying trip and stock up.

Here Are The Recipes

Original Ithaca Napslaw Utica Napslaw
Spinach Salad Chinese Spinach Salad
Grecian Black Eyed Pea Salad Caribbean Minestrone
TVP Lo-Mein TVP Stuffed Calabaza Squash

You're recipes are welcome. Please mail me.

Return to the main
survive and thrive page.

Original Ithaca Napslaw

one small head napa cabbage or one half a large head.
two to four tart juicy apples.
1/3 of a box of dark raisins.
not quite a cup of mayonaise.
one good sized splash of lemon juice or cider vinegar
white pepper

In a large bowl place the leaves from the napa. You don't use a knife on the napa which is a football shaped loose leaf cabbage. You tear of the leaves and tear them into bite sized pieces. This is a good job for kids to do. Then cut up the apples and throw away the cores. Throw them in the bowl as well. Add the raisins. Now mix up the dressing. In a measuring cup or good sized coffee mug, mix up the mayonaise, lemon juice or vinegar and the spices and salt to taste. This dressing generally tastes better if you have some salt in it. Use the cumin and the white pepper sparingly if very fresh and more liberally if not. Just add a pinch of cinamon. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss. Makes three to six servings.

Return to the
recipe table

Utica Napslaw

three good sized carrots
half a fresh anise (the leafy half. Save the bottom half for soups and stews)
one half a large head of napa cabbage or a whole small head of napa.
two to four tart juicy apples
3/4 cup of mayonaise or slightly less.
scant 1/4 cup of lemon juice.
spicey brown mustard (2 or 3 Tbsp)
Vegit seasoning or other season salt.

Peel the carrots and grate them into a large bowl. Chop up the leafy part of the anise into small pieces and cut it all the way down to where it is mostly round and looks a bit like a celery. Put the chopped up pieces of anise in the bowl with the grated carrot. Cut up the apple into small pieces and put it in the bowl too. Tear the napa leaves into bite size pieces and throw them in the bowl. Napa is a football shaped loose-leafed cabbage that you do not have to shread like regular tight headed cabbages. In a measuring cup or good sized coffee mug, mix up the mayonaise, lemon juice, mustard and spices. Pour this mixture over the salad ingredients and toss. Makes three to six servings.

Return to the
recipe table

Spinach Salad

three good sized carrots
1/4lb to 1/3 of a pound of fresh bean sprouts (not alfalfa sprouts)
the green end of a bunch of scallions (Save the white end or business end for soups and stews)
one package of fresh spinach
1/2 cup mayonaise
1/2 cup chili sauce
roasted or unroasted shelled sunflower seeds

Peel the carrots and great them into a large bowl. Wash the sprouts and toss them into the bowl. Chop up the green end of the scallions. Put the white business end away for soup or stew unless you want to smell like an stale onion all night. Wash the spinach and add it. In a measuring cup or large coffee mug, mix the mayonaise, chili sauce, paprika and dill to taste. Lots of paprika is better and the hot stuff is the best. Keep the dressing separate in the fridge. Keep the salad in a sealed container or a large plastic bag. Dress the salad only right before you eat it and serve with sunflower seeds. Makes three to six servings.

Return to the
recipe table

Chinese Spinach Salad

No, the Chinese do not make salads, and one never sees salad on the menu in Chinese restaurants, but the Chinese food one gets is never authentic anyway, so what would a Chinese spinach salad taste like? Well....


three good sized carrots
1 head raddichio (a bitter red lettuce)
the green end of a bunch of scallions (Save the white end or business end for soups and stews)
1 can sliced water chestnuts
2 cans Mandarin oranges
about 3/4 package of fresh spinach
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 good size splash soy sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
ginger to taste
Sezhuan pepper blend to taste

Peel the carrots and cut them in small pieces. Place them into a large bowl. Chop up the raddichio and put it in the bowl. Chop up the green end of the scallions. Put the white business end away for soup or stew unless you want to smell like an stale onion all night. Wash the spinach and add it. Add the water chestnuts and mandarin oranges. Toss the whole business.

In a measuring cup lemon juice, soy sauce, and spices. Add the olive oil, and mix some more.

Keep the dressing separate in the fridge. Keep the salad in a sealed container or a large plastic bag. Spinach salad has a better shelf life than lettuce salad.

Dress the salad only right before you eat it. Makes four to six servings.

Return to the
recipe table

Grecian Black Eyed Pea Salad

This is a simplified version of a recipe I found in the New York Times magazine. I adore marinated black eyed peas so I figure do a lot of you.

1/2 lb. dried black eyed peas (You really do need to use dry ones. Canned or frozen just don't taste the same)
1 bunch curly parsley
3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
1/2 package of craisins (sweetened dried cranberries)
The green end of a bunch of scallions (save the white end for soups and stews)
1/2 cup lemon juice
salt to taste (You willl need lots)
garlic powder to taste
Mrs. Dash to taste
1/2 cup olive oil

Soak the black eyed peas for at least eight hours. That means if you are preparing this dish in the morning, the beans go into the soaker the night before, or if you are making the dish at night, the beans go into the soaker in the morning.

When the beans are ready, drain them and start cooking them in fresh water. They take between thirty minutes and an hour. While they cook chop up the parsley. Even the stems are good to eat. Put the chopped parsley in a colandar and wash it. Parsley is often filthy. Shake the colandar to speed the drying or just let it drain. Cut up the green part of the scallions.

When the beans are done, put the parsley in a salad bowl along with the scallions. You need the colandar to drain the beans. Drain the beans in the colander. When the beans are drained (The colander no longer drips), put them in the bowl. They are still hot but parsley is a fairly tough green. Add the craisins and the walnuts.

In a graduated measuring cup, coat the bottom with salt. The ingredients in this recipe are unsalted. Salad doesn't really taste good without a fair amount of salt. Sprinkle in a fair amount of Mrs. Dash and some garlic. Put in enough lemon juice to make half a cup. Add half a cup of olive oil.

Stir and pour the dressing into the salad. Toss and stir and store. This salad tastes better the next day and keeps well. Makes 6-8 servings.

Back to the
recipe table.

Caribbean Minnestrone Soup

1/2 lb. dried red kidney beans
plenty of water
three good sized carrots
the bottom end of an anise (use the top end in salad)
the white business end of a bunch of scallions (Save the green end for salads) A large white onion or even dried onion is a possible substitute.
1/2 package of sun dried tomaotes, or about 3oz.
three boniatoes (Caribbean sweet potatoes)
one good sized splash of olive oil
salt (you are working with unsalted ingredients)
three to four bay leaves
dried red pepper flakes
Mrs. Dash
8oz. (1/2 a one pound package) pasta stars.

Soak the beans over night or at least all day before you want them. Drain them, and place them in a pot with fresh water and NO SALT. Let them cook. While they cook, peel and cut up the carrots, cut up the bottom end of the anise (The leafy top end has already become salad.), and chop the white end of the scallions (Use the green end for salads.). Don't cut up the boniatoes. They discolor very easily

When the beans are soft (This takes anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half.), peel and cut up the boniatoes. This is not as easy as it looks. Cut away the bad parts and cut up each boniato. As soon as you cut it up, dump it into the soup. It discolors really fast. Boniatoes have white flesh but taste like very mild sweet potatoes, chestnuts, or parsnips.

Put all the other vegetables in the soup, including the dried tomatoes. Add salt, olive oil, dried red pepper flakes (pizza pepper), bay leaves, and basil, and Mrs. Dash. Let cook another twenty-thirty minutes. Adjust seasonings.

Make the pasta stars in a separate pot. Drain and store in another container. Serve the soup over the pasta stars. Note: you can substiute tubetinni, orzo, diletanni, or alphabets for pasta stars.

Return to the
recipe table

TVP Lo-Mein

olive oil (Peanut oil will also work.)
1 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein, available in natural food stores or via mail order)
1 small head of bok-choi
the white business end of a bunch of scallions (the green part is for salads.)
2 cubanelle (frying) peppers.
1 package frozen mushrooms (fresh will also work.)
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1 package frozen sugar snap peas
soy sauce (to taste)
Sezhuan pepper blend (to taste)
ginger to taste
dry mustard to taste
1/2 lb. broken spahgetti (These are the lo-mein noodles)

Set the TVP to soak in warm water until it plumps up. This takes anywhere from fifteen minutes to an hour. Drain and set aside.

Chop up the bok-choi, scallions, and cubanelle peppers and set aside.

Liberally and thickly coat the bottom of a large sauce pan with olive oil and heat. When the oil is hot enough that a piece of vegetable sizzles, dump in the TVP and stir it around a little to heat up. Add the soy sauce and spices and stir some more. Then add the cut up veggies. Open the can of water chestnuts and dump them in.

Cook covered opening and stirring occasionally. If the TVP sticks scrape it off and add a bit more oil if it looks dry. Remember you are going to eat this stuff over pasta. When the other veggies seem cooked, add the frozen mushrooms and sugar snap peas. Cook until these are heated through, then set aside and cover. You may have to reheat but it stays pretty warm.

In a separate pot, cook the pasta. I find that spinach whole wheat pasta works really well, but not everyone likes green noodles. Of course you can substitute macaroni or any other shape for broken spahgetti. Store the cooked pasta in a separate container. Eat the lo-mein over the pasta. Serve with extra soy sauce. Serves 4-6.

Return to the
recipe table

TVP Stuffed Calabaza Squash

One calabaza or other large winter squash. Choose a shape that you can cut into two equal sections. The squash should weigh about three pounds.
1 cup TVP
2-3 cubanelle (frying) peppers
The white end of a bunch of scallions. (Use the green end in salads). You may subsitute one white onion if you prefer.
Olive oil
1/2 a package of raw spinach. (You may substitute frozen leaf spinach)
curry powder to taste
dried ginger to taste
garlic powder to taste
Salt Free Spike Seasonsing to taste
salt to taste

Wash the winter squash and cut it in half. A small but sharp paring knife and lots of patience works for this. Seed the squash usinng the knife ad a fork. This is a bit messy but you just have to live with it.

Take the squash halves and put them in a large sauce pan with a small amount of water in the bottom. The water should only come up to your second knuckle. Make sure you cover the pan. Turn up the heat and steam the squash until it is done but not overcooked. This will take between twenty and forty minutes. Test the squash by tasting it. Put the squash in the fridge to cool. Yes, you can leave it over night.

When the squash is cool or later in the day or the next morning, carefully scoop the squash into a bowl leaving two stuffable shells. I find it easier to prepare winter squash for stuffing than eggplant or zucchini. Soak the TVP. You can reheat the squash water and use it for soaking along with other warm water. Soak the TVP until it plumps up. This takes from fifteen minutes to an hour. While the TVP soaks cut up the cubanelle peppers and the scallion bottoms.

When the TVP is plump, coat the bottom of the big sauce pan where you cooked the squash with a liberal coating of olive oil. Add salt, curry powder, ginger, garlic, and Salt Free Spike to taste. You will probably need more. Heat up the oil until it sizzles. Add the TVP, peppers, and scallions. Stir and keep an eye on this stuff. Wear pot holders to avoid getting "spritzed." TVP loves to stick so if it starts sticking, add a bit more olive oil. Remember TVP is fat free. Taste and adjust seasonings.

When the peppers and scallions are cooked, add the spinach, stir it in and keep stirring and cooking the mixture until the spinach wilts. Then take the sauce pan off the stove. Mix in the squash you scooped out earlier.

When it is all mixed up and seasoned to taste, stuff your squash. It will fill up just about right. If you really have extra filling, you can bake it in a small greased pan. Grease a big baking pan such as you would use for steaks for a large family or a sheet cake. Put your stuffed squash halves in the pan if they are not there already. Put the suffed squash halves in the oven at 400 and bake for twenty until browned. You can keep the squash halves in the fridge and bake them in time to serve them hot and fresh to company. When I made this it was a dish you could take a picture of. Stuffed squash is considered a classic vegetarian substitution for roast meat. Now I know why. Serves 6-8

Return to the
recipe table.

Updated 1/5/01
Return to the main survive and thrive page.